An Afternoon Walk in London

Yesterday my niece Jiaxin arrived in the United Kingdom for a 9-week school program. She was beyond excited and already posted a few photos of her and her friends frolicking on a meadow. It would be a wonderful place to celebrate her 13th birthday in a few days – the first one away from home.

So far I have been to London eight times. Even though they were all business trips, I did manage to attach a weekend or two for tourist activities. Here are a few photos from a long walk one Saturday afternoon in the summer of 2012. The weather was quite typical of London – it could change 5 times over in just a few hours.

This is the view everyone is familiar with. Dark clouds were gathering.

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On the other side – London Eye.

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Wonderful performance on the streets.

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The sky lighted up quite a bit by the time we walked towards St. Paul’s Cathedral.

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Finally, a view of the Shard with the Tower Bridge in the background.

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The next day we went on a tour to visit Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and the city of Bath, each deserves a separate post. Now if only I could find those photos…

Travelogue (VII)

Hello my friends! It has been a while since my last post. Time flies… and snowflakes too at the moment. We are supposed to get over 5 inches of snow tonight, again. This winter is apparently in no hurry to depart. 😦

As I mentioned before, the year 2012 was a bit complicated. I traveled to 8 countries (UK, Italy, Switzerland, China, Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Belize) and spent 71 nights away from home. I saw quite a few wonders of the world, and some other amazing things. The number of trips to New York City was cut back significantly which helped to keep my weight in check.

  • Saw amazing snow geese migration in Middle Creek, PA. It was breath-taking to watch and hear thousands of birds take off all at once and then land back on the water.
  • Saw “El Castillo” (Pyramid of Kukulcan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in Chichen Itza, Mexico. This was part of a long relaxing weekend in Cancun, Mexico.
  • Saw many masterpieces and visited many cool places during the wonderful trip to Italy and Switzerland in May. I was beyond excited to finally get to see so many things that I had known since childhood – Colosseum and Pantheon in Rome, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Ponte Vecchio and ‘David’ in Florence, ‘The Last Supper’ in Milan, and Jet d’Eau in Geneva. I will definitely write a separate post for this trip.
  • Saw Niagara Falls from the Canadian side, with a magnificent rainbow.
  • Saw (thru my plane window during taxiing) the space shuttle Enterprise attached to the NASA 747 at Washington Dulles Airport, awaiting clearance to depart for New York for delivery to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

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In addition to feeding my eyes with all these cool things, other interesting trips and experiences of the year include –

  • Caribbean Cruise in December – Hondurous, Belize, Mexico. I went snorkeling and scuba diving for the first time in my life. Even though my focus turned out to be more staying alive than admiring the underwater view, I enjoyed the new experiences.
  • During the Niagara Falls trip, David and I stopped by Toronto pretending to be ‘proud Canadians’ on their National Day. 🙂

To wrap up this post of a busy travel year, let me mention that I also managed to go to London twice for work, Bloomington, IN for a business trip, and Beijing to visit my family. All in all, 2012 was a very productive and memoriable year!

Travelogue (V)

Significant events don’t distribute evenly in life, they usually concentrate in only a few years (at least for me). All other years just pass by, day in and day out, without leaving much trace.

2010 was definitely a very eventful and memoriable year for me. In mere 12 months, I got an iPhone (Jan), survived the snowmageddon/snowpocalypse in the DC area (Feb), refinanced my house (Mar), transferred group at work (May), changed nationality (May), finished two home improvement projects (Jun), and of course, lots of travel – I went to New York City 15 times (for work), visited Europe 4 times (8 countries), and some more. 🙂

March – I visited Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, and Bryce National Park. City and nature combined – a well balanced wonderful trip. Even though this was my third time in Las Vegas and Grand Canyon, I gained new experiences – seeing “O” Cirque du Soleil at Bellagio and admiring Grand Canyon from above. On the way back I flew first class (boosted for free) for the first time in my life.

April – A very nice heart-warming road trip to New England – CT, MA, NH, ME.

August – Flew to Brussels (Belgium) and spent a day in Bruges. Then a wonderful road trip in central Europe – Bratislava (Slovakia), Vienna (Austria), Munich (Germany), Fussen (Germany), Salzburg (Austria), Ljubljana (Slovenia), and Budapest (Hungary). Every place was wonderful, but the highlight was to visit Neuschwanstein Castle, which I have dreamed of seeing for years as I worked on a 3000-piece jigsaw puzzle of it. Lots of challenges and fun stories from this trip that I could write about in later posts.

September – Attended a beautiful wedding in Cape May, NJ – a five-hour cruise on a 110-foot boat. The weather was gorgeous. We drank, ate, danced, laughed on deck under the stars. What a fun evening.

November – Went to London twice (two weeks apart) for work. The first time I flew red eye, had a meeting all day, and boarded the return plane the next morning. Kind of crazy, I know. But I did spend a weekend there the second time as a tourist before getting to work on Monday. I got an Oyster card and immediately felt like a local. Love the city, especially I didn’t even use my umbrella the whole time!

December – A trip to Spain for vacation. A much needed relaxing time at the end of a roller coaster year. Had a wonderful Christmas Eve in Madrid – drinking Heineken eating pasta listening to American music in an Irish pub in Spain. The world is flat! Then Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands off of Africa that belong to Spain, was simply amazing. It has a big volcano (El Teide) in the center, quite a few other mountains with breath-taking views and roads, and of course, lots and lots of beaches. Riding a bike along the shore was a new experience for me, and I immensely enjoyed it! Not to mention watching fireworks on a beach at the warmest New Year’s eve I had ever had!

This concluded my crazy whirlwind 2010. Now I am about to depart on another cool trip (Argentina!), immediately followed by a business trip to London. Likely I won’t be able to post anything for a while, but I will have a lot to share when I come back! Stay tuned. 🙂